Sunday 29 August 2021

Close encounters

Unbeknown to us, our friends Mark, Cheryl and Amelia drove down to the canal to meet us as we set out for Napton this morning. This is the family who got Erin Mae from Great Haywood to the River Severn and back in about 9 days, back in 2016. I think the Olympics were on at the time. We'd known we might meet them on the towpath some time over the next few days, but hadn't expected to suddenly encounter Mark walking through a bridge hole – they'd taken a chance with when we might set out today. Once they were all on board we sauntered at tickover back to where they'd left the car – they'd had a very long towpath walk. It was great to catch up and natter about this and that. I forgot to get the obligatory photo.

Then we had another unexpected encounter.

I still think a widebeam looks extremely odd. We met a couple on this section, where the Oxford and the Grand Union canals run together between Braunston and Napton. It's at Napton Junction that the Grand Union turns right on its way to Birmingham.

But we were going straight on, to the winding hole just before Napton Bridge 111.

I was glad there was no traffic as I turned Erin Mae. Everybody knows it's what you do and that they have to wait while you do it, but this is a relatively slow hole, complicated by the shallowness of the water and, today, the wind.

We came back a couple of hundred yards to tie up, and found that our spot might become a bit dusty.

Harvesting the big field opposite involved this behemoth and another couple of tractors. Fortunately the wind blew most of the dust the other way. I was astonished to discover later that they had done the whole field in the afternoon.

Less pleasing to observe was the steering of some boats that passed our mooring. One got all out of shape, colliding heavily with both an on-comer and one of the moored boats. A minute later another, going far too fast, failed to judge things properly and, in avoiding an oncoming boat, gave Erin Mae a good thump. That's the second time in a couple of days.

And that's the sort of close encounter I can do without.


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